My friend Frederique even has stickers that say so. She is not the type to tell anyone it’s easy to run a business but she also dislikes when people complain about what they do. Suck it up, Cupcake! You were excited about starting this and now you get to do this, so why are you complaining?!
I sat here writing a post about determination. About being determined to finish what I started. About being determined to run this "stupid marathon" this weekend. About being determined to make our 4th SPEAK With Confidence a huge success. About being determined to be a huge success myself. I started giggling to myself. Out loud.
Determined!? Yeah, right. That’s a load of crap. If I was determined to run the marathon, I have woken up & run the last two weeks – and I wouldn't be wondering if I can even walk 26.2 miles fast enough to finish in under the cutoff time. If I was determined to make SPEAK With Confidence a huge success, I wouldn’t have been wondering about Plan B for so long (btw, There is no Plan B) and I would have been celebrating that we hit the number of signups we wanted. If I was determined to be a huge success myself, I would figure out how to focus better instead of complaining about how many interruptions I have during the day. If I… wait a second. Why am I ragging on myself? Don’t I already do enough – work hard enough – not sleep enough?!
Determination defined is “firmness of purpose” – or “a tendency to move in a fixed direction.” Ugh. That means that as hard as I’ve been working, I should have worked harder. I should have done better. I should have gone bigger. I should…
STOP SHOULDING ON YOURSELF.
Just listening to myself is tiring. Yes, I can focus better. I can work harder. I can get more done in less time. I can read all the books & posts about productivity and learn how to do this all better. But in the end, I really need it suck it up and focus on what needs to be done instead of complaining about it.
I teach humans about manifesting – I even have a whole workshop called How To Get What You Want (subtitle: #manifesttatshit). Manifesting is about figuring out what you want, writing it down, creating a plan, and working on it every single day. And I manifest the HECK out of that shit. I’m a manifesting human – I love figuring out what I want. I love writing it down. I LOVE planning. And I am SO good at doing the work. But then I find myself just doing the work – and forgetting about the purpose of it all. The direction I need to be going. Like this stupid marathon.
My friend Shari sent me a message one day a few months ago and said “I just signed up to run a marathon. You should run it with me.” So, Dan & I signed up, too. It was that simple. Except it wasn’t that simple. We now knew what we were going to do but we had to write it down, make a plan, and work on it. And we did.
We made a written plan and put it on the calendar and put in the miles. Until we didn’t anymore. Until we got so tired we didn’t want to get up and go. Until travel got in the way. Until all of the excuses kept us from getting up and going the distance. And now it’s coming up – on Saturday. Now we have to suck it up and somehow get to the end of this thing so we can get the stupid t-shirt.
Yes, I keep saying stupid because I’ve never run a marathon before. I’ve never wanted to run one. And I have NO idea why I decided to sign up for it. No, I’m not one of those “I’m amazing because…” kind of people – especially not with this kind of stuff. I HATE training for this. I will NOT rub it in your face or tell you why you should do it. I don’t think anyone should run a stupid marathon. I love running but I HATE when I have to do something – especially when I know I’ll suck at it. I keep trying to find every excuse not to run – snow in the mountains, a rolled ankle, can’t find a dogsitter, I got sick – EVERY EXCUSE NOT TO RUN THIS STUPID THING.
But guess what ran through my head as I was sitting here thinking about determination? I realized – I am healthy. I am whole. I am a badass. I have all of my limbs. I have full function in my body to run this. I have an amazing partner who will run this with me. I am an incredible magical human machine. I am determined to get to the end of this thing.
As I was wondering about why I bothered to sign up for this stupid marathon, Shari sent me a message and said, “I didn’t realize this when I signed up, but the day we run this marathon is the 5 year anniversary of me losing my finger and my career. It’s amazing how different my life looks now and there’s nothing I would change.”
I’m running this stupid marathon for Shari. I’m doing it because I can. Because I GET to. I absolutely don’t have to do this. I have zero pride in doing it. I’m also not doing it for me – I’m doing it for her. To celebrate this amazing life with her.
I don’t have to do any of this. I don’t have to run this race. I don’t have to run this business. I don’t have to run this speaking retreat. I don’t have to go anywhere. And yet, I GET to. I get to run this race. I get to run this business. I get to run this speaking retreat. I get to travel. I get to inspire others. This is all a gift.
My mindset shifted this morning. That quickly.
I woke up today saying, “I absolutely can’t do this.” And now I just keep repeating, “I get to do this.” I GET TO DO THIS!
YOU get to do this. This life. This amazingly imperfect, hard, rollercoaster, crazy life – and it’s all yours. Your perspective, your heart, and your determination.
You are an incredible human being – a machine – made of magical components built exactly the way you were meant to be built. You are perfect just as you are. Even if you don’t look, feel, or act like what everyone else says or believes is perfect – you are PERFECT. You are right where you’re supposed to be. You are your own kind of magic. It’s to you to decide to be incredible. To wear your awesome. To be the beautiful human you were created to be.
You GET to be here. You GET to breathe. You GET to do the work you’re doing. You GET to enjoy the life you’re living. You GET to love the people you love. It is not a RIGHT to live this life – it’s a REQUIREMENT.
Congratulations for hitting the human lottery – now, suck it up, cupcake – and DO THE THING! I promise, you’ll change how you feel about anything when you realize that you GET to do it. I get to do it with you.
Now, I'm going to drive to Utah, run a stupid marathon, celebrate with my friends, and eat ALL of the cupcakes. So, suck it, cupcake. hahahaha
BE MORE. BE BETTER. BE THE BEST. BE WHAT YOU WERE MADE TO BE.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. FOCUS ON YOU.
DO LESS! DO MORE!
Everyone has an opinion. And you know what they say about opinions.
They either tell you to work harder or they tell you to take more time for yourself. And everyone has their own formula for doing it – thinking that it will be one-size-fits-all when it’s not and it CAN’T be. We’re all unique snowflakes (I know, I know – but it’s true!). We all need our own balance/integration/way-of-doing-life. As much as personality tests try to stick us in categories to tell us how to do things, we still have to figure it out for ourselves.
I saw a facebook ad that literally said (and I quote): "FACT If you are not madly in love with every area of your life, overflowing in every area of your life which matters to you… (continue reading)” with a physically fit bearded hipster guy sitting on a rock looking out over rocky terrain & a link for his program to upgrade your life.
I couldn’t even "continue reading" because first, it isn't well-written – and second, I wanted to hit him the face for putting that kind of shit on other people. Those words are out there making people feel like shit because he OBVIOUSLY does this himself. *insert eye roll*
Let me be REALLY clear: NO ONE IS MADLY IN LOVE WITH EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIFE. NO ONE IS OVERFLOWING IN EVERY AREA. NO ONE. ABSOLUTELY BLEEPING NO ONE. The gurus, the monks, the coaches, the trainers, the experts, the spiritual leaders, the ninjas – no one has all of their shit together. WE ARE ALL HUMAN! We’re not meant to have everything together. We’re meant to keep learning & growing. The reason some of us teach others is because we’ve figured out how to authentically be ourselves and our purpose is to help others figure out how to do the same.
So many are REALLY good at hiding their shit – and it ends up eating them alive. If you ever hear a “guru" say that they have all of their shit together & that they’ve found the fountain of _fillintheblank_ and you look at their life, their Instagram feed, and see that they live a spotless life – RUN! Don’t buy that program. Don’t read their blog posts. Don’t listen to their podcasts. Don’t fill your brain with that shit. Don’t feel bad about your life.
Phew – now that THAT is over.
Over the last two years, I’ve been building a program that is SO far outside of my comfort zone. This program allows humans to show up authentically on stages sharing their stories. It didn’t happen over night. And it has NOT be easy. I hosted it three times – training over 30 people – before I even admitted I was doing it. I denied that I was training speakers – when in reality, I’d been doing it for years. I’m a brand strategist so it’s been my job for the last 10 years to help companies tell their stories. I’d even written talks and created slide-decks for people and companies – and stayed fully focused on the fact that I’m “just” a brand strategist.
Every time we hosted an event, I would always say it was the last. Every time we had to get butts in seats, I said I’d never do it again. Every time we finished the event, I’d be SUCH a Proud Mom – telling every one of my speakers' stories – and how hard they worked to get on that stage. And yet, I WAS NOT GOING TO DO THIS AGAIN.
Then I moved across the country, built the online course, and wrote a 140-page workbook – and, what did I do? I did it again. WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?! I’m NOT a speaker coach. I help people tell their stories, I don't teach people how to rock stages – AND this is REALLY HARD! Why am I doing this?!
This was until my Helpful Human, Gisell, looked at my ragged, weary, and proud face after our third event as everyone was hugging each other to head back home and said, “If you could hear what everyone says about you and this experience, you’d never doubt that you have to keep doing this.” So, we did it again. We posted a whole new event for October – added more days, made it all-inclusive, got a few signups, worked our tails off – and found that EVERYONE wanted to do the next one.
“I’m totally in for the workshop in April,” said the 53rd person.
Hearing this over and over, I took a weekend to decide if a handful of signups was worth moving forward with or if I should just wait until April. I asked my team to think on it, pray on it, and see what they thought. One of my trainers came back to me after the weekend and said, “I asked God for a word and although I wanted to play it safe and wait until April, He told me that you should listen to what He first told you.” So, we forged ahead with a new fervor.
Until I hit another wall.
I got up on stage in front of 300 women to keynote the Women in Business Network event. I’ve never felt more on fire than that morning in Dayton, Ohio. I shared the shit, I shared the awesome, and I gave them permission to take ONE step. Just one. To show up for themselves so they could show up for others. I told them “You are right where you’re supposed to be.” I made 300 new friends that day.
And the whole time I chatted & inspired, I was doubting my decision to make the October Accelerator happen – again. I was excited to be there and suffering inside trying to piece everything together.
A woman walked up to me & said, “I’m so glad I found you. I don’t know if this is weird or not, but while you were speaking earlier, God told me to tell you ‘There is no Plan B.’”
Talk about all of the air rushing out of my body. KEEP GOING! We jumped on it with even more excitement and decided that the people who were supposed to be there would be there. And guess what? THEY ARE! The Rockstars who have signed up for October are 100% right where they’re supposed to be. (Weird that I talk about this.) And this Accelerator would help me streamline every single one of the future ones – hosting more people and going even bigger. Because I was FINALLY COMMITTED! No more wavering. No more Plan B.
YOUR SUFFERING ISN’T FOR YOU TO KEEP.
Entrepreneur life is NOT glamorous. Anyone who talks about the hustle being sexy is lying.
Running a business is HARD. Building a team, managing your life, and making money is HARD. Especially when you AND your team depend on you for a paycheck. It’s not for the faint of heart. We can surround ourselves with incredible humans and still hit bottom over and over. We can be fully supported with a sound business structure and perfect marketing plan – and still miss the mark.
“It’s lonely at the top” is true AND false. It’s hard – there is NO doubt. And all of us have major decision fatigue on a daily basis. But it’s only lonely if we don’t reach out.
The problem is – when we reach out, people say shit like “everything will be ok” and “it’ll all work out.” We share where we are and it ends up being brushed it off as character-building. Which ends up reminding us to NOT reach out. Which reminds us that we’re lonely.
Encouraging words are all fine & good but most of the time we really need to hear “I’m with you” or “I’ve been there” or “I get it & I’m sorry it sucks.”
If you know me at all, I’m a HUGE encourager. I love helping people through rough times and reminding them to wear their awesome. If you need a hug, I GOT YOU! AND I’m also the first person to say “ugh, I feel that. I’ve been there. And I’m standing with you in it.” Because when shit gets hard, we really don’t want to hear that it’s going to be fine. We want to be validated in our feelings and know we’re not alone.
Sure, when we look back on the hard stuff, we may laugh at how silly it was. We may add it to a talk on a big stage or share it over coffee with a friend. Or we may just be glad we went through it because of all we learned. But when we’re in it, PLEASE knock off the “just smile & everything will be better” shit. It doesn’t help. A hug does. A listening ear does. An understanding note does. A word for the Big Guy upstairs does. Because it feels like no one really hears you when they say that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Screw the tunnel. Screw the light. Screw the great story this will make. Screw the character-building. Screw you for saying I’ll laugh about it. I’m just going to light that bitch on fire and we’ll talk about where the light and the tunnel meet.
Because what other choice is there?! Trudging?! Pretending?! Lying to myself and everyone else? THERE IS NO PLAN B.
I’ve been hustling my face off for 3 straight weeks without downtime, without sleeping well, and without feeling like I have all my marbles. I’m building an INCREDIBLE program that takes up almost all of my waking hours – and I know it’ll be worth it. It always is. And I’m tired.
I just turned off my wifi for two hours in a mountain town, put my noise-canceling headphones on, and pretended my business didn’t exist in order to write this post. I have a to-do list that’s bigger than it's ever been and I’ve delegated everything I can possibly delegate. I have zero phone calls on my calendar today and have been asked a total of 86 questions today alone. I’ve only responded to one email. And I finally got a note from my bookkeeper that said the sky wasn’t falling anymore. I am blessed – I get it. I REALLY do. And yet…
It’s been almost 10 years since I started my business. It’s been hard – and SO rewarding. I’ve transitioned, I’ve changed everything, I’ve revamped my life, I’ve moved multiple times, I’ve been through almost everything an entrepreneur can possibly go through. And yet, I’m still here. I’m still standing. I’m still hustling. I get it. It sucks and it’s so awesome – all at the same time.
If you’re in the shit right now, I feel you. I feel every particle of your being. I DEFINITELY don’t have all my shit together and right now, as much as I love celebrating all of the wins (and boy, there are some INCREDIBLE things happening), I’m also living in the shit. I need sleep. I need to delete my inbox. I want to go play. I sometimes wonder what it would look like to have a 9-to-5. And then I remember the impact of what I’m doing. The impact, the purpose, the stories, and the authenticity. I LOVE being me. I LOVE my life. I LOVE this shit. THERE IS NO PLAN B.
So, all that to say – I see you. My twitchy eye sees yours. My tight shoulders are wrapped around yours. I have a tissue box ready for you any time you need to just let it all out. And I will encourage you to LET IT ALL OUT. No matter who you are or where you’re from or what you’re going through, I’ll stand with you. Because that’s what we humans need – to know we’re not alone.
It’s 6am. I’m doing something I’ve never done before. And I’m noticing a pattern.
Sitting in my house waiting for the sun to come up – and for this day to be over. I’m miserable. My face is swollen from crying all night. I blink away more tears as I stare at my laptop screen. A spreadsheet featuring a colossal mistake. It shows me every reason NOT to do this. It explains why this will never work. I’ve heard these whispers before – those little a$holes in my head – the ones telling me this is going to be too much and not enough all at the same time. Because I’m too much and not enough…
It’s day one of filming my first professionally-created online course. I’m a wreck.
I am going to be on camera with a professional videographer sharing how to show up in their own confidence while doing something terrifying for most people – speaking on a stage.
I have my outfits ready. My team is setting up the scenes for me. I have every detail outlined in order with all of the specifics so I don’t forget anything. I have been working on this for a year. AN ENTIRE YEAR! And I had NO problem doing this in person – no problem helping people through my methodology and doing the thing that scares most people as much as death – getting on stage. But the idea of doing the same thing in front of a camera is making me break down. It’s not comfortable. It’s totally new and not at all what I want to do. If I just cry hard enough, they can’t film me.
The whispers are coming at me from all angles and I’m listening to them. They’re winning.
All the whispers tell me:
You need to do more research.
No one will sign up for this.
You won’t price it correctly.
You won’t be good on camera.
Too many people will sign up for this & it’ll get out of control.
You won’t find the right software to make it work.
You don’t have enough prepared.
You’ll find out how many haters you actually have.
You won’t deliver it correctly.
You’ll miss too many pieces.
Someone will say you’re competing with them.
Someone will critique you.
Someone will hate you.
You will suck.
You already suck.
I KNOW the whispers mean I’m on the right track. I know this is a HUGE project and it will make a ginormous impact. I know that when something big is about to happen, EVERYTHING will try to prevent it.
Both times we’ve hosted Rock Your Talk, the precursor for this online course, something has come up for almost every speaker the week of the event. A dying family member, a friend going through a rough patch, business getting overwhelming – they start doubting themselves – those negative whispers get louder- and it’s because they’re on the right track. If they overcome it and get on the stage, they show up even more brilliantly.
During the week of filming SPEAK With Confidence (launching in Q1 2018), every bit of negativity I was holding in my body surfaced. The same thing happened to me when I started the podcast. And it’s even showing up doing something I know I’m good at doing – WRITING THIS POST! EVERYTHING has prevented me from starting AND finishing this. Excuses ranging from not being interesting enough for someone to read – to not being able to breathe or focus at altitude. SERIOUSLY?! MELANIE! WTF?!
But guess what? I know exactly what I’m terrified of… and it’s kept me from the success I really want in my life AND my business – and it’s getting ridiculous.
I’m afraid of being… SUCCESSFUL.
And I’m sabotaging the shit out of myself.
Whenever I share my fear of success, someone always says “Oh, wow. I definitely don’t have that. I’m afraid of failure.” I mean, it makes sense. The only fears we’re born with are falling on our faces and loud noises, so a fear of failure is basically innate. If you want to look at it figuratively, failure is a bit like falling on your face. But what I’ve found is the craziest? We actually can’t fall on our faces when we’re standing in our own way.
I am a 6’ tall powerhouse of a woman – and I’m standing in my very own way. I am strong – so dang strong. I know this well because I will fight myself every step of the way to something amazing – with excuse after excuse on why I can’t do it. Anytime someone hears that I’ve had a tough time creating something or doing something, they’re blown away. “You make it looks so easy.” I’m SO glad it looks easy because it was anything but.
Without realizing it, I’m not asking myself “What if I fail?”, I’m really asking “What happens if I make it?” and “What if my excuses don’t work and I end up getting everything I’ve ever wanted?” And my favorite: “What if I don’t have to struggle anymore?”
WHAT?! yeah. Fear of success.
I’ve done this in my career, my business, my relationships, my family – really asking myself “WHAT IF IT IS AMAZING?!”
Ah, but there lies the problem: the struggle is SO GOOD!
Certainty is getting the safety and stability – the comfort we need.
Uncertainty is where we love surprises – the need to shake things up.
When we have too much stability, we crave the variety. When things are unstable for too long, we crave certainty. (Are you feeling it?!)
When I travel too much, I want to be home.
When I’m home too long, I can’t wait to travel.
When I work too much, I want peace.
When I have too much quiet, I crave the busy schedule.
When I am lonely, I crave humans.
When I have too much of the humans, I crave solitude.
The struggle is REAL! And once we accept it, we can finally move on to do the thing we’re meant to do.
Remember, I’m a powerhouse of a woman standing in my own way! This fear of success? It’s WAY harder to get through than the fear of failure. Failure is inevitable. Failure is how we figure out success. Failure isn’t an option. (I know, I know… you’ve heard all of the inspirational quotes.) But it takes bravery – bravery to stand up to your fears and do what is inside of you to be successful – which, in turn, creates impact.
If you’ve been waiting for it, this is your sign.
It’s time to be BRAVE!
The last month of 2017, I had to find my brave. I moved my DC life 2000 miles away to another DC – Denver, Colorado. I did this while recording an entire online course, closing out the end of the year, taking care of clients, rocking a few workshops, speaking in different states, training a new employee, packing boxes and bags, and driving in a MINI with all of the things I’ll need for half a year – including my boyfriend and my dog. No big deal. (Insert wide-eyed emoji)
Rewind to the beginning of that month when I had kickass habits – running, meeting my trainer twice a week, homemade meals, not drinking booze, reading books, meditating, getting to work early, writing at 5am, etc. Everything was simple – I was rocking my business and my life. Until every bit of certainty I had was ready for a big surprise.
I had decided to move from DC to Denver after 11 years – and 11 hours later, I had manifested that shit. With almost zero effort to rent my house and find a furnished house to rent in Colorado – No joke. I know it was a God thing, but I also know that when you’re ready for something, you name it and put in the work, it manifests. I was ready for uncertainty, but I didn’t realize how much I was in for – but then, I’ve always loved the struggle.
Right after making that decision, I was told to slow down.
In a SUPER painful way.
With WAY too much on my mind, I went for a run. It’s the only way I know to clear my mind. Within 3 minutes of starting, I tripped and fell – skinning both knees and both hands – OUCH! I limped home and shook it off. Three days later, I went for a run again to clear my head. At the end of 5 miles, I tripped and fell on the same spots – ripping off all of my scabs. (shudder) I cried. I bawled. I sobbed the half mile home with blood dripping down my knees and hands. I screamed in the shower. I felt like a huge failure. I couldn’t wear pants for weeks. I was a mess. (Don't worry, I won't share the photos.) And it took me some time to realize that I had too much on my mind to go for a run… Even if that’s what helps me clear my head. Then… my habit disappeared. As quickly as I fell.
For the next few weeks, it took every bit of effort to talk myself into getting out of bed each morning. To workout. To meditate. To not lay on the floor of my bedroom scrolling through my social media feeds trying not to think about everything else I have to do. To not just pour myself a glass of wine. To not just go pick up something to eat. To not find another distraction. And I found them all. My habits broke down quicker than I ever imagined they could. Because I let them.
BECAUSE I LET THEM.
I had all of these certain habits that helped me be successful and as soon as uncertainty showed up, I broke down. Without my routine, the feelings of utter failure showed up in my chest every time I was a little behind. The anxiety wells up and I start shutting down. Without my routines and habits, I lose sight of what really needs to happen in my life and my eyes glaze over – literally and figuratively – giving me every excuse not to do what I KNOW I’m meant to do.
This is where I was at 6am the first day of the filming. I hadn’t run in 3 weeks. I hadn’t been eating super healthy. I hadn’t been sleeping well. My calendar kept getting moved around. I had more on my plate than I could handle. I woke up every day with mounting anxiety. Everyone forgave me for canceling because they knew what was going on. Yes, I had people to help – but my mind was set that I couldn’t possibly succeed at everything.
So, that morning I decided I wasn’t willing to do the filming. I was ready to call everyone and tell them I was canceling the shoot and we’d have to wait until later in the year. Until Gisell, my Helpful Human, walked into my bedroom to find me crying and asked my puffy face the question that changed everything.
“What are you really afraid of?”
The word walked out of my mouth as if I had known it all along: Mediocrity.
I was standing in my own way with my hands on my hips worrying about being MEDIOCRE. Mediocre is something I don’t understand. I’ve never done anything mediocre in my life. It’s against everything in my nature to do anything half-assed or crap.
I was making more work for myself because I was worried that I wouldn’t do my best. I wasted hours and hours worrying instead of doing – when I had ALL of the information already inside of me. I was deciding NOT to do ANYTHING because I was worried it wouldn’t be perfect – or enough… those negative voices had ended up making me believe I wasn’t enough. So, I sat there crying and deciding nothing was better than something.
Wasn’t I the one who says “Do epic shit” and “Manifest that shit” and “Wear your awesome” when people are having a tough time? And I was the one sitting on my bed crying about doing a video shoot!? WHO AM I?!
Oh yeah, I’m the woman going through a laundry list of the most stressful situations ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I needed encouragement – the same kind I send to so many. The same kind people reach out to me to give them. And I had NO idea how to ask. So I posted a note on my FB wall saying that I was struggling. I got a TON of incredible response to motivate me as I got in front of the camera, but one sweet woman sent this to me offline:
“There are so many perfectly boring, uncreative, uninspired people who make changes, are affiliated with good products, etc. It's almost embarrassing how much mediocrity succeeds in our society. YOU ARE NOT MEDIOCRE. You are exceptional, you have a vision, energy and intelligence to do what want to do. And you have a thoughtfulness and intention . . . so don't waste your damn time on self doubt.
Think of all the crap out there — even if you don't complete something to your vision of excellence — you know it is going to be 10 times better than all the mediocrity. And remember, we learn by upgrading our models — so put your stuff out there, test it, upgrade it and move forward. Don't doubt — it's a waste of time. Just talk to yourself as if you were talking to a client.”
Every time you doubt yourself, read that.
After that teary-eyed morning, I filmed the course. And guess what?! It was all inside of me. EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT! All I had to do was show up and start. I haven’t even seen the videos yet, but I know it’s going to be amazing – because I’ve already done the hardest part – I had to stop sabotaging myself. And I could have done that WAY quicker had I kept up my good habits – my routine. It was there to support me and I abandoned it along with myself. Until I was forced to show up.
I don’t want to think of what would have happened if I hadn’t walked downstairs and made it happen – because I did it. And I’m already successful, even if the course doesn’t go the way I expect. Even if it’s not perfect. Even if I need to upgrade it later. It’s perfectly imperfect just as it is. And SO many people will be able to benefit from my own bravery.
That pattern I was talking about – the one where I stand in my way – this is me admitting I have a pattern and it’s time to break it. By publishing this post, I’m breaking it. I almost threw it out but realized that meant I was doing something that would be impactful by sharing. I almost quit the filming but I know it’s the first step of many to give others a way to share their story.
But this post isn’t about me. This is about you. I’m only sharing my shit so you can see how f*ing hard this is for me. The behind-the-scenes is never easy. And the smoother something looks, the harder it was. You’re reading it because you needed to hear this – so you could stop standing in your own way. Step aside, you have big things to do!
I want you to know that you are already successful – just because you showed up for yourself. I am proud of you for being ready for what’s next. It’s up to you to make shit happen. So…
I LOVE the beach. Going to the beach is my escape from regular life. I’ve always gone in the winter with my pups because it’s the quietest, most relaxing place I know. I like to sit on the beach to stare into the distance and think. I like to run on it as the sun rises in its brilliance. I like to watch the gloriousness as the sun sets. I like to grab a tan in warm seasons while reading my favorite book. It’s peaceful there. A loud, yet quiet peaceful.
Having lived on both US coasts, I still can't fathom how people live in the middle. (Seriously, middle dwellers, explain it to me.) I have to live on the coast close enough to reach the beach in a few hours max. Landlocked places make me antsy. I need to know the waves are still rushing. I need to see them for myself. I need to know that life is really still moving and not because we’re moving it. I need that taste of the power of God. I need to see the ocean but I never EVER wanted to go in. Never.
My whole life I’ve been terrified of the water. I liked being next to the water. To watch the waves, to enjoy the splashing, to see what the ocean brings to the sand. I didn't grow up with an ocean nearby. I know how to float and paddle around in a pool or a lake, but my labored breath quickly takes over & I freak out if I have to go too far. Knowing how quickly the ocean could kill me, that something inside it could eat me, or hearing of people who were swept out to sea and lived on little boats drinking their own pee? Yeah, not for me.
Until one day…
My California uncle told me ocean kayaking wasn't that much different from river kayaking. He took me to a little beach near Pismo, California with what looked like a giant Tupperware container and sent me out in a life jacket to jump in it. His only warning – "don't put the kayak between the wave and you." He pushes me out. Wave one. Smash, tip over. I’m under water. Coming up fighting for air. Wave two. Smash, can't get back in. The life jacket is holding me down in the water. I keep trying because everyone on the beach is watching.
Shaking, I dragged that oversized bathtub boat back to shore. Goosebumps and deep breaths. He laughed. "What's wrong? Are you cold? Go on, try it again." No thanks. That was terrifying. He had no idea that I had never been in the ocean before. Profuse apologies and hugs ensued. He felt awful but had never thought to ask. How could anyone not have been in the ocean in their mid-30’s?! We found a spot on the beach with no waves and like a child, he pushed me into the quiet water. Beautiful ocean kayaking without the terror of the waves. I loved it. He now asks everyone "Have you been in the ocean?" before taking them out.
6 months later, I was at the beach enjoying the sun only to realize there was no bathroom at the beach. Yikes. My friend told me to go stand in the waves. “Nah, I can hold it." He rolled his eyes and took my hand. We walked into the ocean, chatted for a bit and I felt relieved – in more ways than one. Something that small had been scary enough to make me want to wait. Why was I so scared?
6 months after that, I went to Hawaii. The waves – oh, the waves. I loved sitting on the beach watching the blue water but wasn't interested in body surfing or boogyboarding – terrifying. What if the current took me under? Learning how the waves worked and watching how I could anticipate them, I felt a tiny bit more comfortable. Until we got to the snorkling reef. I was just going to sit on the beach. Zero desire to swim with the fishes.
Except that they had these full face mask things (a friend said they look like jockstraps for your face) that allowed you to breathe regularly through your mouth and nose. So, out we went. The first time was terrifying and beautiful. I was breathing too fast. So I tried again. And wow. All of the wonder below the water's surface. All the fish, the coral, the critters. So incredible. I was hooked.
And then I went to Bali on Escape to Bali with Jennifer Moore. Bali is a magical place. It tricks you into thinking you can do anything. With a bronze tan, loads of yoga and exercise, and all the vegan food a girl can consume, I felt a wee bit less than certain that I could conquer this insane fear of the ocean. The lovely human leading us took us to the ocean for surf lessons – each of us with individual instructors. I was assigned to a tall skinny Balinese college student, Ricky, who looked like he had grown up in the ocean. After learning all of the techniques and processes to stand on a board, my ankle was strapped to a board and I was dragged out into the waves fighting the undercurrent. Ricky seemed to walk on water as if there was nothing holding him back. I struggled. Hard. Waves, fear, heavy breathing, worry of death. Ugh.
Waves hitting me over and over, we finally reached what he thought was a good spot and he turned the board and told me to lay on it. "Do your best." And sent me on my way. I started to stand up, got to my knees and road a wave to the beach. A little thrill. Walking the board back out, he put me on it again. Wobble, balance lost, splash. All the salt up my nose. Cough. Sputter. I hate this.
Heading back out, we got to a new spot. On the board, wave hits, pushup, left foot back, front foot on, wham. Fell off. As I wipe my face sputtering swear words under my breath, I look back and see Ricky with his arms up and a big smile. I got up! Wait, I did. I got up. Let's do it again.
The next time I went out, I asked Ricky to say "I believe in you" when he pushed me. Hearing those words was just what I needed to get up & rock it. Over the next 90min, I got up fully seven times and rode to the beach three of those. What a rush! First time out and I'm hooked. Yes! Apparently, I have great balance. I even figured out how to steer the board. Yes! Let's do this again! Salt in my sinuses, be damned.
Only after we were done did I find out how rough the ocean had been. The instructors were proud of all of us for rocking our beginner lessons in that surf. Ummm, yeah. Had I known this, I would have opted out. My fear had been monumental – something I never thought I would overcome – but as I grabbed a selfie with Ricky before I left, he said, "Melanie, I killed your scared." Oh man, he did. He killed my scared.
My entire life I’ve been worried about the big bad ocean while also being soothed by its power. There’s obviously a metaphor in there somewhere – but if I take this at just face value, I see how much this one fear has affected so many other things for me.
I recently got a long train-of-thought email from one of the speakers for Rock Your Talk. It was the type of email you don't want to read or you'll edit – so she just hit send. And boy, was it powerful. It reminded me of my own scary first few years in business. She shared about how she had been learning and growing over the years – sinking tons of money into learning about her business – only to realize that she was avoiding actually doing the things she was learning. She was the one holding herself back and she was ready to break the pattern by getting on stage and sharing her story with the world. She was ready to face her fears of success. She was ready to be successful. But SHE had to make that decision and take the steps to get there. She needed to kill her scared.
We place limits on ourselves – and sometimes we don’t even realize how limiting they are. My surfing lesson wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things – I doubt I’ll ever become a professional. BUT it showed me that I was hiding from things that were limiting me. “Life without limits” is my mantra. And I’m the only one putting limits on myself. My fears are standing in the way of the things I want to do – nothing else. It’s up to me to step over them – through them – and find the joy on the other side.
What’s in YOUR way?
What’s your ocean?
Start with little steps. Find out how the seawater tastes. Float for a bit. Jump in a kayak. Go snorkeling. And then stand up on that surfboard. When you finally release the fear, you realize how small it really was in the first place.
I’m standing in the ocean with you. Let's kill your scared!
Nothing seemed to go right. Even tiny things felt like giant, annoying frustrations. Punching a wall was looking better and better. But suddenly I realized something. I needed a hug. So I asked for one.
Luckily, I work with the best humans, so Gisell and Cheney were on hand for a warm-and-fuzzy group hug. We all went back to our workspaces feeling just a little bit better about life, and it all came from the power of human contact. A simple human touch made all the difference in the world. I just needed to ask for it.
Later that day, I got to talk to my friend Chris about what had been going on. He told me to come home – to get out of my own head. Of course I was having a crappy day – I was painfully homesick for my heart-space and wasn’t asking for the thing(s) I needed to get me home.
So many of us don’t take the time to examine what we need on a daily basis. We get caught up in the anxieties of the day, whether it’s running a business, raising a family, or picking out matching socks (everything is relative). We forget that we’re human beings, not human doings. Going up to Brainland is necessary and helpful, but sometimes we forget to come home to our hearts. Human beings live in their hearts, not their heads, so when we forget about the “be’s” and focus on the “do’s” we’re bound to get a little out of sorts.
The trick is to identify what we need to get home and ask for it.
What I needed was a simple human touch, so I asked for it. Maybe you need some time with your favorite book or a mug of your favorite tea. If you need space from someone else, ask for 30 minutes of ‘me-time’. Ask for what you need, even if it comes from no one but yourself. Give yourself permission to come home.
I’m in Bali doing exactly that – coming home to my heart. Giving myself the time and space to heal. My team is helping me take of everything while I’m gone – all I had to do was ask them. It’s scary to give up total control, to ask for help, but I promise you, you’ll feel amazing when you do. Come home, and when you do, send me a love note telling me how you got there.